While pitchers and catchers are making their annual trips to Florida and Arizona, many talented players still wait to be signed.
Season-changing players are still on the market, and the period of free agency between now and Opening Day will likely decide how the season plays out for some teams.
Here’s a look at these top remaining free agents, and where I think they’ll be playing baseball when April rolls around.
Bryce Harper: Phillies
If you happened to read my MLB bold predictions article, you’d be very familiar with my feelings on where Bryce is headed this off-season.
He has been rumored to go to San Francisco, San Diego, and even potentially back to D.C., but I just feel like Philly thinks they need him. They did, after all, just trade a good chunk of their minor league system to Miami to acquire an elite catcher in J.T. Realmuto.
They obviously feel like they have the young core to compete for the playoffs now and in the future, and Harper fits that timeline. It may take a while longer, but they’ll eventually back up the brinks truck and bring Bryce to the City of Brotherly Love.
Manny Machado: White Sox
Suprise! Just like the other top-flight free agent in Harper, I also have Manny Machado going to the Vegas favorite to land him: the White Sox.
With no team standing out as one that makes perfect sense, it’s been a cluster of teams in the running over the past few months. Out of these, Chicago has become the favorite. They’re young, intriguing, and want a superstar to lead their future. Oh, and they have a ton of money, something Machado obviously yearns for.
The Yankees were the frontrunners for a good chunk of the winter, but Brian Cashman and Co. have seemingly shied away in the past month. They still remain in the mix, but frankly, that’s something that I, and most baseball fans, don’t want to think about. The South Side it is!
Dallas Keuchel: Brewers
It was reported last week that Keuchel was down to three teams–Houston, Atlanta, and Milwaukee.
Obviously all of these are good matches, after all, they wouldn’t be in the final three if they weren’t. However, I think Keuchel will be in Wisconsin in April.
Milwaukee knows they need a pitcher after Chicago and St. Louis each bolstered their rosters this winter. With this market, it’s either Keuchel or bringing back Gio Gonzalez– and the Brewers should do the prior.
Craig Kimbrel: Red Sox
It’s odd that this move hasn’t happened yet. It was something I considered essentially a lock after the Sox hoisted the trophy in October. In fact, some media members doubt that it will happen at all. In my opinion, at some point, the sides will have to settle.
The Red Sox still need another piece for their bullpen. Kimbrel’s market is slowly but surely dropping. Eventually, the Red Sox needs and Kimbrel’s falling asking price will line up and Craig Kimbrel will be back doing his unique pitching stance at Fenway in 2019.
Mike Moustakas: Brewers
Rumors have been circling that a Moustakas return to Milwaukee is “inevitable”. I’m not going to bet against the inevitable. The Brew Crew could use another infielder anyways.
Marwin Gonzalez: Indians
The Indians need outfield help AND Francisco Lindor is reportedly out for 7-9 weeks with a calf strain. Who better than Marwin Gonzalez for this need?
A super utility man who can play the corner outfield spots, and fill the shortstop hole that could be left if Lindor misses more time than expected. It’s a safe bet for a good-but-not-great Indians club who desperately needs a player like Gonzalez.
Gio Gonzalez: Athletics
Upon conducting some light Gio Gonzalez market research, I came to the realization the Mets fans appear to be EXTREMELY interested in him. Sorry guys.
Billy Beane and the A’s were rumored earlier this week to be interested in bringing Gonzalez back to the Bay. Now, with news breaking that their coveted first-round pick, Kyler Murray, is headed to play football, chances are they will be looking for somewhere to realocate that money they will be getting back.
I’m sure Gio would love to take that off the hands of a playoff contender for a year or two.
Jose Iglesias: Pirates
This was the toughest one of the bunch. Iglesias’ market has been seemingly nonexistent throughout the winter and Spring Training is just around the corner. He’ll get scooped up by somebody, but due to the lack of rumors, it’s hard to tell who.
Because of this I had to use my gut, and my gut just screams Pirates when it comes to Jose Iglesias. They lose infielder Josh Harrison and his glove-first play style is something that the Pirates have a history of loving.
Adam Jones: Giants
Much like Iglesias to Pittsburgh, Adam Jones is such a San Francisco signing. An aging position player with declining but still-average production has always intrigued San Fran’s front office, as seen by the acquisitions of players like Hunter Pence and Evan Longoria through the years.
On top of that, if they miss out on Harper like I think they will, they’ll still be looking to add an outfield piece. Jones fits the bill on each of these descriptions. Thus, I have him exchanging his Baltimore orange and black for the orange and black of The Bay in 2019.
Josh Harrison: Reds
With Moose headed back to Milwaukee and Marwin going to Cleveland, a landing spot for Josh Harrison suddenly becomes a lot less clear. When in doubt, go with the feel good pick. J-Hey is a Cincy kid who would no doubt love to return to his city. The Reds certainly wouldn’t be hurt from signing another infielder of the quality of Harrison.
Will it happen? Probably not. But if it does, you best believe you heard it here first.
Clay Buchholz: Rangers
The Rangers have massive rotation needs. It’s painstakingly clear that Rangers GM, Jon Daniels is trying to stockpile once-good pitchers with little worth nowadays in hopes to flip them at the trading deadline for future assets. Frankly, it’s a pretty great plan for a team who has no hopes of contending this year anyway. The Rangers entire rotation is made up of projects like this, such as Drew Smyly, Shelby Miller, and Lance Lynn.
Luckily for Daniels, there’s still a guy that perfectly fits this stereotype available in Clay Buchholz. On Buchholz’ side, he can take a few million to bet on himself and potentially get traded to a contender in July. It’s the ideal match.
Ervin Santana: Yankees
The Yankees need help in the back end of their rotation. Even if it’s simply depth, a signing before the season would be ideal for their injury prone staff. Why not take a flier on Ervin Santana?
He won’t ask for much–his market is very small, and he could give you some nice innings whether it be as a spot starter or a long reliever. The only problem? His 2017 comments about how much he hates pitching in Yankee Stadium. :/.
That’s nothing a few million dollars and a chance at a World Series ring cannot fix, however.